hair serum
If you suffer from brittle, frayed ends in between wash days, then hair slugging is the latest beauty trend that could help. Image Credit: Pexels/Cottonbro

Want glossy tresses overnight? Apparently, there’s a simple hack to getting the most out of your hair oils and leave-in conditioners. Thousands of TikTok users are trialling a new beauty trend, armed with a fuzzy sock, a silk scrunchie and a trusted hair moisturiser. If you’ve heard of skin slugging, then meet its loosely inspired cousin, hair slugging.

In hair slugging, there’s no slathering of the locks in Vaseline. While the viral Korean skincare trend used petroleum jelly to prevent moisture loss from the face, hair slugging favours oils, serums and masks. But, what can the trend truly do for your hair? We spoke to an expert for all the slugging for tresses knowhow, right down to the products you’ll need.

What is hair slugging?

The term caught on quickly when TikTok user Monique Rapier shared her haircare secret, back in February, 2022. “If your hair feels dry, broken, dull or brittle – you need to try this!” writes the US-based beauty influencer in the Instagram caption to her hair slugging tutorial.

She’s seen applying “a lightweight oil” to the ends of her hair, and then slipping the ponytail into a sock, which is lightly fastened at the top with a silk scrunchie. The last step is supposed to reduce frizz caused by pillow friction, similar to how a bonnet would. All of this is done before bed, so that you wake up to smooth and shiny tresses in the morning.

What’s the difference between hair oiling and hair slugging?

If you’re thinking about how the haircare trend sounds a lot like traditional oiling, then you’re not alone. “Hair oiling is actually an age-old practice that’s been around in India and other South Asian countries for years,” Dr Aashim Singh Kukreja, a specialist dermatologist with Medcare Medical Centre in Dubai, told Gulf News. “Even the wrapping of the hair before bed is something that’s always been there in Middle Eastern and African cultures. So, hair slugging isn’t something entirely new.”

Does it produce the same results as hair oiling? According to Dr Kukreja, hair slugging only goes as far as adding a bit of lustre to the locks, with the appearance of less frizz. “The hair oil we use is massaged into the scalp to improve blood circulation and, in turn, improve hair growth,” she explained. “Whereas, slugging is only done from the mid-shaft to the ends of the hair, and left in overnight. Its effects only last till the next wash.”

Hair slugging is more concerned with sealing the cuticles to prevent them from fraying overnight. Dr Kukreja advises that slugging is best done once or twice a week.

Which products are the best for hair slugging?

hair serum
Since oils can weigh down the hair, our expert says slugging with lightweight serums and conditioners could deliver better results. Image Credit: Unsplash/Scandinavian Biolabs

Dr Kukreja recommends rosemary and coconut hair oils – the latter is usually supplemented with the moisture-locking ingredient, vitamin E. Avoid heavier oils, such as castor, that are going to take multiple washes to come off. While hair oils dictate the slugging trend, Dr Kukreja says serums, leave-in conditioners and light masks are better moisturisers.

“You shouldn’t have to wash your hair the morning after slugging. With oils, you’re going to have to use a shampoo and conditioner to wash the oily layer off. This can cause the hair to become even drier,” she added.

Look for hair serums fortified with moisturising ingredients, like amino acids and hyaluronic acid. Silicones are also great for an anti-pollution protective layer and “makes the hair appear a little thicker”. If hair thinning is your main concern, then check out pro-picked shampoos here.

Read on to pick the best hair product for slugging, featuring expert recommendations and TikTok’s tried-and-tested favourites. Shop with Prime to save more on beauty essentials that are currently 50 per cent off on Amazon.

1. Best Coconut Oil with Vitamin E: Forest Essentials Organic Cold Pressed Coconut Virgin Oil, 200ml

Dr Kukreja picks Forest Essentials, when it comes to hair oil brands. This 200ml bottle of cold-pressed coconut virgin oil contains vitamin E. Since it’s organic, the oil is multipurpose, meaning it nourishes both the hair and the skin with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The way it’s been extracted, without the application of heat, helps the formula retain several essential fatty acids. Besides vitamin E, the coconut oil is rich in vitamin A, B1, B2 and B6, and is free from chemicals, parabens and petrochemicals. It’s an excellent choice for conditioning the hair.

2. Best Hair Oil for All Hair Types: Ouai Hair Oil

Rapier’s choice of hair oil is the 45ml Ouai bottle, ideal for split ends in need of a smooth, frizz-free look. The lightweight formula is infused with a blend of African galangal root extract and Asian borage oils, making it both a heat and UV (ultraviolet rays) protectant. Ouai mentions that the oil can be applied to either wet or dry hair for styling, or left in overnight as an intense hydrating mask. What’s great about this oil is that it’s suitable for all hair types. Reviewers with curly, wavy and fine hair attest to same shiny, soft results.

3. Best Leave-in Hair Cream: Phyto Kératine Extrême Exceptional Cream, 100ml

Phyto is a brand Dr Kukreja swears by, and its Exceptional Cream is worth a shot. The hair cream is enriched with botanical keratin for repairing, and sapote seed butter and baobab oil for nourishing. You can use it as a heat protectant before blow drying, too. The product is fast-absorbing, so expect it to be non-greasy and lightweight on the tresses, as reviews note. For a leave-in treatment, apply two to four pumps, but this amount depends on your hair length and thickness.

4. Best Night Serum: Kerastase Nutritive 8H Night Serum

A dedicated night serum is your best bet for a moisturiser that feels more like water than oil. “Serums contain more of amino acids, which basically act like an elixir for the hair. There’s less concentration of oil in these,” said Dr Kukreja, who suggests Kerastase. Infused with wheat protein, iris root extract and vitamin E, this milky gel-like serum nourishes and seals cuticles, for a satin finish. Your hair’s going to be much more manageable and softer in the morning – there’s no rinse necessary!

5. Best Leave-In Conditioner: Olaplex No.6 Bond Smoother, 100ml

For a highly concentrated moisturiser, try the Olaplex No.6 Bond Smoother, a leave-in reparative styling cream. Enjoy frizz-free hair without the flyaways for up to 72 hours. Dr Kukreja says Olaplex’s leave-in conditioners are A-Okay for slugging, especially since this formula is great for all textures, from coily to fine hair. It addresses hair concerns like breakage, damage and dehydration, with fermented green tea oil, coconut oil, vitamin E, fermented argan oil and grapeseed oil.

6. Best Serum for Frizz: L'Oreal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Leave-In Serum

Dr Kukreja has personally used L’Oreal Paris Elvive serums, adding that they do their job well. This leave-in serum tames frizz with its water-based formula, gliding through the hair easily. Because the product is formulated with heavier ingredients, like castor seed oil and cocoa seed butter, a little goes a long way. Drier hair types with waves and curls might benefit more from this serum treatment.

7. Best Oil-based Concentrate: Kiehl's Smoothing Oil-Infused Leave-in Concentrate

Another expert recommendation is Kiehl’s leave-in treatment line. This oil-infused leave-in concentrate has a woodsy fragrance, owing to moisturisers argan oil and babassu oil. It can be used on damp hair as a styling product or in between wash days, whether in the morning or at night. The concentrate smooths dry ends and boosts shine, for dry or frizzy hair types.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.